Tipton — A complaint has been filed with Tipton County Prosecutor Jay Rich regarding the failure of some candidates in the Republican Party primary to include a disclaimer on campaign signs.
State law requires a disclaimer on all yard signs and campaign literature that indicates who paid and authorized for the signs and brochures.
Violators could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor with possible penalties of $5,000 and up to a year in jail.
Several home-made wooden signs throughout Tipton County for candidates Mike Cline and Joe VanBibber, both running for county commissioner; Ed Bell and Carroll Cohee, both running for county council, either did not have or continue not to have the required disclaimer.
Brad King, co-director of the Indiana Election Division, said the state law requires the disclaimer on yard signs to be printed in a 12-point font and on brochures in a seven-point font.
King said there are two ways to file a complaint, directly with the county prosecutor’s office or with the county election board. He said the election board would then decide whether or not to seek the filing of criminal charges with the prosecutor.
It is up to the discretion of local prosecutors on the filing of charges and whether or not to consider each sign without a disclaimer as a separate charge.
“It’s a frequent problem,” King said. “In most instances commercial printers know the disclaimers are required. It’s more common with home-made signs.”
King said the Indiana Election Division fields a number of calls concerning the disclaimers.
He said a few years ago a Jennings County man was imprisoned and fined for not including a disclaimer on a brochure left at the Indiana State House which had a bogus Lake County address.
King said the state believes the disclaimer law is important because it contains information for the public.
Jim Leffler, a candidate in the GOP county council at-large primary, filed a complaint with TIpton County Prosecutor Jay RIch. Rich was unavailable for comment.
“I want him to enforce the law,” Leffler said Friday. “I would like to see [Rich] give the candidates 24 to 48 hours to include the disclaimer.”
Leffler said he was putting on yard signs and was asked by a local resident about the disclaimer.
“I had older signs, so I went around and put the disclaimer on my signs,” he said. “I want the other candidates to do the right thing and follow the law. The law is there, everyone should abide by it.”
Brett Curnutt, Tipton County Republican Party chairman, said he was told some of the signs were not in compliance.
“Candidates are given a packet at the time they file,” he said. “It tells them about the disclaimer and when to file campaign finance reports.”
Curnutt said on Tuesday he sent out a reminder to all the candidates regarding the disclaimer.
”Legally it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Hopefully we got the word out. I personally haven’t looked at the signs. ... Absolutely, I take it seriously. Anytime there is anything with a candidate’s name on it, I encourage them to include the disclaimer.”
VanBibber said Tuesday it was an “oversight” on his part not to include the disclaimer. By Thursday there was a disclaimer on his home-made yard signs.
Cline said he put out eight large signs throughout the county. He said two of the eight had the disclaimer.
“I overlooked the other six,” he said. “I have 250 signs out and six don’t have the disclaimer.”
Cline said a disclaimer would be on the signs by Tuesday afternoon.